Applied Working Group

Hunter Gatherer Education Working Group

Applied Working Group team

Jennifer Hays, Principal Investigator
Velina Ninkova, Co-Investigator
Edmond Dounias, Co-Investigator
Attila Paksi, Co-Investigator


Key information

Full title: Contemporary hunter-gatherers and education in a changing world: Recognizing the value of traditional knowledge transmission for sustainable futures; exploring possibilities for formal schooling to promote self-determination; and challenging the ongoing colonial legacies of stigma, exclusion, and assimilation.
Workshop: Spring 2023, Arctic University of Norway
Get involved: Join the HG-Edu network – link will be available here soon, please check back!


Applied Working Group overview 

This working group aims to promote better educational options for contemporary hunting and gathering societies. Hunter-gatherers are small scale, mostly egalitarian, societies that until recently depended primarily on food obtained directly from their natural environment, through hunting, fishing, and gathering edible and medicinal plants. Although these groups themselves are often small, globally they make up an important group, representing a significant percentage of human cultural and linguistic diversity. Furthermore, many hunter gatherer groups live in hotspots of biodiversity, and possess knowledge and adaptive strategies honed over centuries or millennia; these are communicated between generations through highly effective pedagogical approaches. Recent scientific findings support the argument that these groups have much to contribute to our search for more sustainable ways to live on this planet.

The UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 promotes ‘Quality Education’ – with the understanding that “education enables upward socioeconomic mobility and is a key to escaping poverty”. While this may be true in some cases, individuals from hunting and gathering societies are often faced with enormous barriers to participation in schools. Furthermore, even limited participation can undermine their own effective and relevant knowledge transmission strategies.

In this project, we work with individuals from hunter-gatherer communities, educational policy-makers and practitioners, and other researchers, to identify scientifically-informed approaches to education for hunter gatherers, and to determine effective ways to communicate our findings to relevant government institutions and civil society organizations. What kind of education do such groups need and want access to? We will explore the ways in which local schools can be made more inclusive and friendly for hunter-gatherer children. At the same time we will identify the ways in which their traditional practices might be useful for educational efforts on a global scale – for more just, sustainable, effective, and engaging education for all.


AWG Contacts

If you would like to contact the project team, please email the grant management team in the first instance, at ces.transformationfund@durham.ac.uk.

HG-Edu website [available soon, please check back]
Velina Ninkova: Twitter